Cas Mudde Profile picture
Sep 12, 2018 21 tweets 5 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
I have been arguing for a long time that the EU, and particularly the EPP, should stand up to Viktor Orbán, but I feel nevertheless conflicted on triggering #Article7 - let me explain. #Thread…
1. Although triggering Article 7 does not mean kicking Hungary out of EU (more below), it is starting with the "nuclear option".
2. Orbán and Fidesz have been creating an "illiberal state" since regaining power in 2010. That is 8 years of undermining checks and balances, recreating institutions and filling them with cronies, and creating a kleptocracy on Russian model.
3. Yet, except for some weak resolutions, mostly concerned with economic freedom (i.e. bank and media ownership), the EU has done little to nothing to stop Orbán dismantling liberal democracy in Hungary.
4. Obviously, prime responsibility rests with @EPP , the political group that Fidesz belongs to. Its key politicians, most notably @JosephDaul and @ManfredWeber , have been instrumental in shielding Orbán from sanctions.
5. But even the "critical" voices with @EPPGroup - notably the "Northern parties", have been happy enough to take a wait and see approach, buying into the "at least inside EPP we have influence on him" narrative.
6. Clearly, this approach never worked. Orbán has changed the EPP more than that the EPP has changed Orbán!
7. As Orbán jumped on so-called "refugee crisis", becoming the most important radical right voice in EUrope", even challenging "Queen Europe" Angela Merkel, major EPP members rallied around him rather than standing up for real Christian democratic values.
8. As as media and politics convinced each other that nativists are "the people", Orbán's power grew, being the voice of "the Somewheres", berating the "out-of-touch" elites in Brussels (and Berlin). His electoral victories "proved" this.
9. The fact that these victories were created within an increasingly controlled political environment, with an exceptionally incompetent and corrupt "opposition", was barely noted.
10. Moreover, that part of the support was "bought" with government hand-outs just before the elections, was largely ignored -- even though some research shows this was more important than Fidesz' nativist campaign of fear.
11. The point is that these hand-outs are only possible because of lavish EU funding -- Hungary receives most EU money per inhabitant according to some studies. This is why EU in general, and EPP in particular, is complicit is Orbán's attack on liberal democracy in Hungary!
12. The EU should have sanctioned Hungary already years earlier. First, by holding back subsidies because of corrupt practices in distributing the money within Hungary. Second, for not complying with certain EU political regulations.
13. The @EPP should have suspended Fidesz membership and kicked them out if they wouldn't have changed their policies. Only then should we have triggered Article 7.
14. Call me a cynic, but my reading of the @EPP change of heart is this: they need to have this divisive issue off the agenda in the run-up to 2019 European elections. This was the best (only) way.
15. The vote means that EU and Hungary have to engage in "dialogue" to work out differences. This means that "things are in process" and no read decisions have to be taken. At same time @ManfredWeber can claim he stands for liberal democracy and be acceptable to both EPP camps.
16. Orbán doesn't loose anything concrete either, and can rail against Brussels and boost his nationalist credentials back home, while opposition is divided, because supporting Art.7 is "treason" while opposing it is supporting Fidesz.
17. At same time, he keeps pressuring EP by threatening to found new radical right group -- which is why he met with Salvini -- and hopes that Fidesz will do even better in 2019 (they will) and EPP will do worse (they probably will), thereby increasing relative power.
18. In addition, he will give his supporters within EPP (Daul and Weber) some small symbolic victories -- most notably signing contract with CEU, which will also get US off his back -- and they will use this to argue that keeping him within EPP works.
19. And then, after 2019 European elections, and with Weber as EC President, Article.7 procedure is either ended, because Hungary "cooperated", or voted down by Visegrad allies.
20. And Orbán will come out even stronger: either having successfully defied EU or having been absolved of all sins and been given the official seal of approval. #TheEnd

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More from @CasMudde

Oct 6, 2018
This weekend Brazilians will go to the polls to elect a new president. #Brazil is fifth biggest country in the world, in terms of population, and symptomatic of a remarkable authoritarian turn in the world's biggest states. #thread
1. China is the biggest country and only non-democracy in top-5. But even here General Secretary Xi Jinping has taken the country in a (even) more authoritarian and nationalist direction.
2. India, the world's largest democracy, has been governed by PM Narendra Modi and his radical right BJP-led coalition since 2014. MOstly ignored by international media, India has seen sharp rise of radical and sometimes violent Hindutva activism.
Read 12 tweets
Jul 12, 2018
NEW! @pewglobal has just published an interesting and important report on ideology vs populism in Western Europe (full disclosure: I was consulted on it). Here are some of my quick takes. #Thread
You can find the full study here -->…
1. The main takeaway for politicians and pundits should be that populist parties are NOT the voice of the people! In fact, in almost all countries they are BY FAR the least favored party!
2. Favorability gap between populist and traditional parties is massive in North and substantial in much of South! This is even the case with left populist Podemos (less favorable than PP, although poll before govt crisis!) and most normalized populist radical right party, DF!
Read 14 tweets
Jun 29, 2018
Good piece on EPP and Orbán by ⁦⁦@PoliticoRyan⁩ although he is too forgiving on EPP’s incredible hypocrisy. A few comments. #Thread…
1. I honestly don’t see how EPP comes out of EP2019 weaker, except if Macron joins ALDE (big if).
2. S&D will be real loser of EP2019, losing one of its last big parties in big country because of Brexit while many others have recently been decimated.
Read 18 tweets
Nov 26, 2017
This is supposed to be defense of one of too many uncritical “human interest” @nytimes pieces on neo-Nazis and other far right people. It shows depth of ignorance among journalists.
1. First and foremost, it shows media’s tendency to think in clichés - the purely evil bad person and the purely good victim.
2. Second, it shows the enduring problem of white privilege in the media, undoubtedly strengthened by whiteness of newsrooms as noted by @jbouie
Read 27 tweets
Nov 13, 2017
I think this piece, while more nuanced than "60.000 Neo-Nazis march in Warsaw", still misses many points. #thread…
1. Poland always has had a very strong far right subculture, which is quite diverse, from neo-Nazis, to neo-fascist (Dmowski) to orthodox-Christian nationalists.
2. Because of electoral system and big right-wing umbrella parties far right parties and politicians mainly operated within right-wing parties rather than separately (recent exception: LPR).
Read 21 tweets
Nov 5, 2017
In past months I’ve criticized high-profile initiatives on populism at Harvard & Stanford. Let me clarify why. #thread
1. I am happy that populism is (finally) taken serious by US mainstream political and social science.
2. Although I wish “populism” was used more carefully and not as short hand for anti-establishment, nativist, or protest politics.
Read 26 tweets

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